Tomatoes are the most popular vegetables in home gardens. No wonder – those grown on your own that are ripening in the sun are delicious and way healthier than those bought in super markets. If you provide them with proper growing conditions, you will be able to harvest even several kilograms of tomatoes from one shrub.
Irrespective of the site where you would grow tomatoes: greenhouse, plastic foil tunnel or out in the field, you should take care of the right soil preparation, because these plants have high requirements in regard to nutrition. You should provide them with permeable, fertile soil that is rich in humus. Tomatoes grow best in the first or second year after fertilizing the soil with manure. We also advise to enrich the soil with mineral fertilizers with high phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen content right before planting the seedlings. Choose sunny sites, because tomatoes need at least eight hours of sun per day in order for the fruit to acquire the best taste.
Tomatoes have a long vegetation period and are, therefore, grown from seedlings. Young plants are transplanted outside only after May 15. You may purchase seedlings at a local garden centre or prepare them on your own. Sow seeds onto a hotbed from mid-March to mid-April, depending on the cultivar. You can buy good tomato seeds here. Germination takes place after 5 – 6 days already, but the seedlings are ready to be transplanted onto the field after a month and a half. During that time, you need to provide the seedlings with plenty of light, proper humidity and temperature in range of 22 – 25°C. We advise to harden the seedlings before transplanting them to the ground.
For that purpose, you decrease the intensity of watering and lower the temperature a week before the planned transplantation. You should take care of that even if you intend to grow tomatoes in tunnels or greenhouses. Seedlings are ready for the transplantation after they have grown 15 – 30 cm. tall and have developed 5 to 8 true leaves, depending on the cultivar. Water plants excessively before taking them out of the pots in order to avoid damaging the roots. When transferring seedlings to the field, you need to place them deeper than they have grown in the pot. A couple of inches of the stem should stay under the ground level so it develops roots in that part and will be able to absorb more water and nutrients from the soil and grow stronger.
Care and fertilization
Tomatoes require regular watering, weeding and fertilizing. When you decide to grow tall growing varieties, do not forget the supports so the plants will not spread on the ground. Grow one main shoot only and remove all the side shoots. If you fail to do so, the vital energy of the plant will be dispersed on many shoots, what will result in decreased, less attractive crops.
Particularly during wet summers, tomato plants are vulnerable to early tomato blight, resulting in dark spots in the lower parts of the plant, and potato blight that quickly destroys the plants. Proper care will help you to keep tomatoes in good condition and increase their resistance to diseases and pests. We also recommend preventive natural crop-dusting. If you grow tomatoes under covers or in a greenhouse, please control the temperature. If it falls under 12°C or rises over 32°C, the plants would stop developing fruit.